Vienna Boys Choir March 14, 2010
By Glen Creason
You would have to go a long way to find better bloodlines than the five hundred year old “Wiener Sangerknaben” or as they are known on this side of the great pond “the Vienna Boys Choir.” Just picture that Franz Schubert and Papa Hayden were members of this august ensemble to get some perspective. Than again, they have performed on every continent except maybe Antarctica. The word boys in the title should not make anyone believe this is a green, unpolished unit since the dedication, talent and rigorous discipline needed to perform as they do is beyond what any who teach kids would believe possible. To translate it all into American, these guys are just totally awesome! I had to say they were better than advertised since there is no need beyond posting a notice that the choir is coming and the place will sell out as it was at the Performing Arts Center for this Sunday matinee. These fans go back to the 78 rpm playing mahogany consoles and many sang-along, although not anywhere as well as the lads. There is an old-fashioned feel to the show as the director Florian Schwartz wore the tuxedo with long tails and the boys were attired in their trademark sailor suits. This is one of four touring choirs, this one the Mozart choir which celebrates a genius who figures heavily in the history of the group.
At Cerritos the program was full of delights including classic arrangements of the masters including “Jubilemus” by Couperin, “Come ye sons of art and strike the viol” by Henry Purcell, J.S. Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and several wonderful songs from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” “V’Amo di core” was most interesting as it consisted of three melodies sung separately by twelve voices while the boys walked in patterns around the stage. This maneuver is the musical equivalent of patting your head while rubbing circles on your stomach. The first half ended with four more playful pieces “Der Floh,” “Gaudete,” the lovely “Widerspruch” by Shubert and a lilting waltz by Johann Strauss “Leichtes Blut.” The second half was drawn from all over the world, beginning with three perfect tunes from Austria with a snappy accordion accompaniment. The third in the set featured a yodel that actually drew audience participation. Two songs from America were demanding and unusual including a piece written by Geronimo and a work song that required precision percussion supplied with twenty-five pair of feet. Two more gems were a sweet love song from Korea “Arirang” and the song for peace from Israel “Shalom aleichem.” Yet, a last minute inclusion of the Leonard Cohen masterpiece “Hallelujah” was cause for a heartfelt standing ovation all up and down the large auditorium. The rewarding afternoon ended with, appropriately an Austrian finish with a Strauss polka and waltzes and even a tasty encore of “Chattanooga Choo Choo” that gave the boys a lot of pleasure along with the roaring crowd.